04/30/18

North Korea – the Libya Solution

The Libya Solution? Really, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here going North Korea on y’all. You know I served in the Republic of Korea in the Army back in the 1970s, so I have always been interested in all things Korea.

I used to spend time on the DMZ on my belly studying the goings on in North Korea. Plus, I used to build artillery positions and GSR (ground surveillance radar) sites on the top of mountains to shoot or spook into NK.

The Boss back in the day, freezing while overseeing the building of a road to the top of a mountain to build an artillery firing position. That’s North Korea in the background. My favorite thing about the Army — a constant supply of Jeeps. The radio on that Jeep could reach to Saturn.

So, when it began to appear like we were headed to war in Korea, I followed it closely.

Now, it looks like Kim Jung Ping Pong is going to come to President Trump’s table with some peace offerings in hand.

I give President Trump the credit for his bellicose approach to the nuclearization of the Hermit Kingdom because he scrapped “strategic patience” and substituted “fire and fury” in its place.

Who dreamed up “strategic patience” and how does it differ from not doing anything while Kim and his buddies figured out to make nukes and rockets capable of reaching Dallas?

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04/30/18

Clean Energy – Apple, Google

Clean energy is hard to be against unless its cost is an issue.

The Big Red Car is here for y’all on a cloudy day in the ATX. Talking clean energy.

Clean energy is a big umbrella which covers solar, wind, water, geothermal, bioenergy, and nuclear. Hello, America, NUCLEAR?

OK, so maybe the DOE definition of clean energy took it one step too far, but that’s what they say.

Apple (2018) and Google (2017) have announced that 100% of their energy needs worldwide are being supplied by clean energy. They also pull the definition a bit further by adding “renewable” to their definition.

Anybody surprised these two companies are leading the way on this?

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04/29/18

CEO Shoptalk – Energy

Energy, today we focus on energy.

Big Red Car here after an afternoon of menial labor. I like menial labor, I do.

So, today we talk about how a startup, a small business, or a medium size business deals with energy.

First, there are energy sources and energy sinks. An energy sink is an absorber of energy. We will come back to this issue of energy sinks. Now, we focus on creating, maintaining, and multiplying energy.

Here is an example of a dragon projecting energy, hence, the name “dragon energy.” Haha, Kanye and Donald, both DRAGON ENERGY.

Fire breathing dragons are sources of energy. Usually, they have eaten burritos with jalapenos.

Every enterprise is, essentially, an energy equation. Let’s apply that to business, shall we?

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04/29/18

Brilliant Political Messaging

Today we talk brilliant political messaging, y’all.

Big Red Car here on a brilliant, sunny Sunday morning. Ahh, on Earth as it is in Texas — Austin By God Texas, y’all.

So, the President gave a cold shoulder to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last night, electing instead to fly out to Washington County, Michigan and give a campaign style speech about the accomplishments of his administration and the upcoming mid-term elections.

For those keeping score at home, President Obama carried Washington County twice, while President Trump won it by 11%. One might say that that transformation was symptomatic of President Trump’s victory. He flipped a county which twice elected Barack Obama.

For a few minutes, jettison your own “NeverTrump or “TrumpisGod sentiments and step back. Abandon your biases. Let’s discuss messaging, political messaging, in particular.

OK, it’s a long speech and I don’t expect you to listen to the whole damn thing. Just get the flavor of it. It’s a red meat speech.

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04/26/18

Pitch Dynamics

What does a pitch feel like? How should it feel? Pitch dynamics.

Big Red Car here on a spectacular Texas spring day, y’all. It doesn’t get better than this. It was 53F this morning and it will be 83F this afternoon. On Earth as it is in Austin By God Texas!

So, I’m talking to two founder CEOs and we get on the subject of the dynamics of pitching. [Huh, Big Red Car, the “dynamics?”]

By dynamics, I mean the sense of the encounter, the style with which you pitch, the personalization of the pitch, what the pitchee (the funder) is thinking and looking for. So, we discussed it for an hour and some fajitas.

Here is what we settled on.

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04/25/18

Tariffs and the American Market

Tariffs, Big Red Car? Really?

Big Red Car here thinking about tariffs. I am sure you are interested in tariffs. They are an effective tool to control access to the world’s best and biggest market – the United States of America. That is the big win for the rest of the world – access to our market.

Until 1913, tariffs also funded our government, before the advent of the income tax. They are an important element in the history of the US.

As you can see, the US had high tariff rates until the time of the World War II Era Bretton Woods Agreement. Starting in 1970, the US lowered its tariffs dramatically in support of notions of free trade.

Free trade should, also, be fair trade. As you can see, during times of higher tariffs, the US trade balance was positive. Since the advent of lowered tariffs, the US trade balance has gone and stayed negative.

I support the Trump admin’s efforts to drive equilibrium back into the trade balance with the strategic use of tariffs.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just an American made Big Red Car. Be good to yourself and think about tariffs, free trade, and fair trade.

 

 

 

 

04/25/18

Platoon Sergeants, the Secret Sauce

Platoon sergeants, God bless them all!

Big Red Car here on another perfect Texas spring day. Ahhhh, on Earth as it is in Austin By God Texas, y’all.

The Boss was up in Lexington, Virginia recently to give a talk at an entrepreneurs event. Lexington is, of course, the home of his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute – a hard place to be, a good place to be from.

VMI has an expansive campus carry program including Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John at the foot of Stonewall’s statue. Those four cannons are combat veterans of the Mexican War and the Civil War. You get a rifle, a bayonet, maybe a sword, plus tanks, howitzers, cannons. Stonewall taught at VMI.

VMI is steeped in the history of the nation and the Civil War. The VMI cadets fought as a unit in the Civil War emerging victorious at the Battle of New Market wherein they conducted a bayonet charge across a muddy field and took Yankee cannons at bayonet point. They also took substantial casualties both killed (10 KIA) and wounded (45 WIA).

Lexington is also the home to Washington & Lee University, a bastion of Southern education. Rob’t E Lee is buried at W & L.

When you go to VMI, you look up your Brother Rats (classmates) who live in the area and you find a chance to swap some stories. The nature of your relationship is so close that if you haven’t seen them in 45 years you pick up right where you left off last time you saw them.

Which is a long way to say a discussion about platoon sergeants ensued. Platoon sergeants are the secret source which is applied to green shavetails to turn them into platoon leaders and soldiers. It is the beginning of a tutelage which is like a craft guild apprenticeship.

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04/24/18

CEO Shoptalk – Staying in Your Lane

Staying in your lane, Big Red Car? Huh?

Big Red Car here on a lovely, sunny Texas Spring day. On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all!

So, the Big Red Car talks to CEOs all the time and I am seeing an odd trend. CEOs are wandering a bit.

They wander a bit because they are successful and they wander a bit because they are not.

When they are successful, they wander because they can afford to do it. [Pro tip: We never make as many mistakes when we are broke. We can’t afford to.]

When they are struggling, they wander because they are looking for that inflection point which will put their compass on the azimuth to the Promised Land.

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04/24/18

James Shaw Jr — American Hero

James Shaw Jr. is an American hero. Let me tell you about him, may I?

On this night, this man refused to die in a Waffle House at 3:30 AM. He refused to accept his fate. He took matters into his own, capable, strong hands. His actions saved lives, most importantly, his own. He is a great American.

The Antioch Waffle House shooting was an enormous tragedy, but from it emerged an interesting story – that of James Shaw Jr, an unlikely hero who went mano-a-mano with the gunman and wrestled his weapon from him, throwing it behind the Waffle House countertop thereby stopping the killing spree. At 3:30 AM in a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee this man found out who he was and he let us in on the secret.

James is a reluctant hero who makes no bones about the proposition that he was acting in his own self-interest. Faced with the highly likely proposition of death, James refused to go quietly into that dark night. If the gunman was going to kill him, it would not be without a fight. It is a strikingly American thought. We Americans will not go without a fight.

What did he do? He attacked the gunman when the gunman was dealing with his weapon – not clear whether the gunman was dealing with a jam or re-loading. James was smart. James picked his moment and acted.

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04/23/18

Revenue, the Essential Nature of Revenue

Revenue. Big Red Car here to talk about revenue. Y’all love revenue as much as the Big Red Car loves revenue?

I think you do.

If you whip out your accounting text, you will read first about operating and non-operating revenue. Scratch a little harder, you will learn about sales, rent, dividends, and interest.

If you are really on your game, you may stumble on “contra” revenue. Contra revenue is discounts and returns.

For what we are doing — startups — the revenue picture is slightly different. Let’s bring it into focus, shall we?

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04/23/18

Building a Fundraising Database

Building a fundraising database, a perfect subject for an incredibly lovely Monday morning in the ATX. Cool, crisp, sunny — ahhh, on Earth as it is is Texas!

So, you are ready to begin fundraising. You need a target list, a database of potential investors. This is true whether you are in the family & friends, angels, syndicated angels, seed funders, or venture capitalists arena. You need to identify the funders.

So, how do you do it?

In our example, I will build on ten such campaigns I have assisted entrepreneurs in the last year.

Remember, you are dealing with people whose job is to invest money. If they don’t invest money, they don’t keep their job. You, dear entrepreneur, are helping them keep their job.

 

It is hard work, but it is not a difficult task.

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04/20/18

Trump on Oil

Trump on oil, Big Red Car?

We woke this morning to a Tweet from our Tweeter-in-Chief picking a long overdue fight with OPEC. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was formed in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Currently, it is composed of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emerates, and Venezuela. Sudan has applied to join. Indonesia was once a member.

[See what odd bedfellows a bit of oil and money creates?]

There is an “observer” class consisting of Egypt, Mexico, Norway, Oman, and Russia.

OPEC produces about 44% of the world’s oil while holding 73% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

OPEC exists to manipulate the price of oil by controlling the level of production thereby driving prices up through artificial scarcity.

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04/19/18

CEO Shoptalk – Setting Standards

There is much to be learned about setting standards by looking at how successful companies do just that.

OMG, it is so damn beautiful in Austin By God Texas, y’all.

Today, we talk about CEOs setting standards taking our inspiration from the recent Amazon shareowner letter which revealed that Amazon Prime had surpassed 100,000,000 members (Big Red Car is one of them).

Here is a link to the Amazon Shareowner 2017 Letter. Read it after you finish this post.

There are a number of interesting things to focus on, but today, I want to focus on the issue of setting standards.

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04/18/18

McDonalds & President Trump

McDonalds? Yes. There is nothing like hearty Scottish food, eh?

So, it is a cloudy, but brilliantly sunny day in the ATX wherein we consider the eating habits of our President to which the Big Red Car protests: “Fake news!”

The Big Red Car does not believe that President Trump actually eats what he is reputed to eat. You be the judge.

The MAGA President Trump reported diet: two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish, and a chocolate shake. But is it true or a myth?

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04/16/18

Wrecking a Brand – Mexico

If you live in Texas, as does the Big Red Car, you have an affinity for Mexico. You love Mexico, Mexicans, breakfast tacos, and fajitas. Margaritas get some love also. Texas used to be part of Mexico until that unpleasantness at the Alamo.

It was once fun to go to Mexico until the drug cartels ruined everything. Now, you can only go to an all included resort and never leave the property.

Mexico? Why, Big Red Car?

Because Mexico is the murder capital of the freakin’ world, dear reader.

This is a cartel hit dead body which washed up on the beach in Acapulco. Does this make you want to visit Mexico? Do you love the gawkers?

I read that last year there were 25,000 murders in Guerrero state (home state of Acapulco). That number is so large as to be beyond belief. I am honestly skeptical that it could be correct. It appears to be right, but how can that be? As a frame of reference, there were 17,250 murders in the US in 2017.

There is a war going on in Mexico. Know this. Act accordingly. Be safe. Vacation in Cleveland.

Read this article about murder in Mexico.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Stay home and eat fajitas at Matt’s El Rancho.

04/16/18

Making the Right Decisions v Making Decisions Right

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Are you making decisions right? Are you taking the right decisions?

OK, y’all, Big Red Car here on a crisp, sunny Texas spring day. On Earth as it is in Texas!

Today, I am pondering a conversation I had last week with a seasoned CEO who I have known for several years. We worked together and I watched him become an extraordinary CEO. It was a wonder to behold.

Early in our relationship, I sent him my standard “beginning a relationship” questions. It’s called the Startup Company and Small Company Checklist.

The way it works is I want the CEO to read the questions to see whether he can answer them. Not to assign homework, but to give him an idea of how others view the framework of a startup. It is always illuminating to have the first discussion after they read that document.

You can find it and other useful stuff here: FREE STUFF

Just scan it, don’t answer it.

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04/15/18

Robert Swan Mueller III – Prediction

Big Red Car here on a sunny Sunday morning. Ahhh, what a day. I have had an opportunity to think about and do some research on Special Counsel Mueller. I am predicting a very hard time for President Trump.

I took the trouble to read about the man, review his education, research his military service including his entire file, read his NFL report, watch some hearings at which he testified, and reviewed some things he had written other than the NFL report.

He is an interesting and complex man. One I would normally admire. In fact, I do admire him.

From that work, I conclude that President Trump is in a world of trouble.

Bottom line: SC Mueller is going to issue a report that will be short of a criminal indictment, but which will serve as grounds to explore impeachment. It is going to be a scathing report.

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04/14/18

Pitch Perfect Call to Action

Big Red Car here on a lovely, sunny Texas Saturday – windy, but lovely.

In the last two weeks, I have spoken to four CEOs who had the same problem – they did not have a reasonable expectation of the “call to action” which they expect from presenting their pitch.

Let’s review, shall we.

A great pitch presents the problem to be solved, the solution, the revenue to be generated from the solution, and the cost to create that solution. No more than ten slides and the slides are the chapter headings for the discussion.

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04/14/18

James Comey Exclusive Interview

So, the Big Red Car has been out and about and inattentive to his reportage duties, but do not fret, dear reader, your Big Red Car has snagged an exclusive interview with James Comey, former Director of the FBI, 2016 election decider, and all around bad boy about town. He has a new book called: A Higher Loyalty. It is further subtitled: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.

James Comey was kind enough to come to the ATX for his interview and sat down with the Big Red Car.

Look at the crazy shit I have to do to sell a damn book — I’m being interviewed by a freakin’ car. Worse, I had to beg the Big Red Car for the damn interview. I wanna be Director of the FBI again, please.

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